C. Szabo-- State Director:
fifth-generation railroader whose ancestors worked for the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy; Wabash and Illinois Central Railroads,
Joe Szabo has always been driven by two passions—railroading
and public service.
hard to say which came first. Szabo hired out with the Illinois
Central in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman
and commuter passenger conductor. He became an employee of Metra
when IC sold its Commuter Division in 1987.
But well before
joining the railroad—while still in high school—Szabo
assisted his father, a 40-year IC switchman and 14-year union
officer, with his bookkeeping work as secretary/treasurer of UTU
1984, he was following in his father's footsteps, winning election
as secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290. Szabo later progressed
to become Local 1290’s Delegate, and Legislative Representative,
eventually winning election as Vice Chairman of the UTU Illinois
Legislative Board in 1991.In February 1996 he was elected State Director of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board. Since then he has been re-elected by acclamation three times: in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In October 2006 he was appointed a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and in October 2008 was elected to a full four-year term.
his union work, for more than twenty years Szabo was active in
local government in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale, eventually
serving as mayor.
his Bachelor’s Degree in Labor Relations from Governors
State University in 1990. Combining his skills in railroading,
union work and public service, he served as a member of the South
Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee and Vice Chairman of
the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee.
Following the 2002 gubernatorial election he co-chaired the Freight
Rail Sub-Committee of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Transition
Team. Since 2005, Szabo has been assigned by the UTU International to the
Federal Railroad Administration's Rail Safety Advisory Committee, where
he participates in the drafting of rail-safety regulations.
to serve in a variety of positions helping decision makers in
state government shape a transportation and economic-development
vision for Illinois. He held an advisory position on the State
of Illinois Growth Task Force, and continues to serve on the Executive
Council of Metropolis 2020, as a member of Business Leaders
for Transportation, and as a member of the legislative advisory
committee for the Metropolitan Planning Council.
Since January 15, 2009, Szabo has been on interim assignment to UTU's National Legislative Office in Washington, serving as Alternate National Legislative Director.
by a conviction that working people can improve their lives by
becoming involved in the political process, influencing the election
of public officials and helping to shape public policy. The union
is the tool that gives them the power to change their lives for
the better. And politics is the tool the union uses to make change